Lawsuits targeting food and beverage marketing have reached record levels, building on the alarming trend that ILR documented four years ago in the first iteration of The Food Court. This update to The Food Court documents recent developments in food and beverage marketing litigation and calls on courts and state legislatures to take action to curb this trend.
Among the developments discussed are the increasing number of consumer class actions targeting food and beverage marketing; the rising trend in lawsuits targeting product flavoring or ingredients; the upsurge in “greenwashing” litigation alleging that company claims about eco-friendly practices are overstated; and the shift from California to New York of the dubious distinction of the nation’s most popular “food court” jurisdiction.
As the authors point out, economic incentives will continue to drive plaintiffs’ lawyers to file these types of actions. Because courts have often been hesitant at an early stage to dismiss even the most ridiculous food labeling and marketing claims, companies often make the calculation that it is easier and cheaper to settle than to dispute those claims. The upshot is a litigation cottage industry that enriches plaintiffs’ lawyers who file numerous cookie-cutter claims, while wasting court resources and imposing needless costs on businesses and consumers. Only decisive action from courts and legislatures can change this dynamic.